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The Arc of Accessibility Work in Museum Education

How accessibility research has shaped the museums of today

30 years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. This monumental civil rights legislation made discrimination against people with disabilities illegal and helped move the US towards a more inclusive future.

Museum Education Roundtable has made research free to access that illustrates the arc of accessibility work in museum education.

The first collection consists of articles that date to the days before the ADA was passed. These articles chronicle museums’ responses to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a precursor to the ADA. 

Be sure to bookmark this page, as on July 26, (the anniversary of the adoption of the ADA), we’ll add our second collection which includes articles dating after the passing of the ADA.

All articles are free to access through this page until December 31. Read, share and cite the collection now.

Research: Pre ADA.

Article Author Issue Year
Museums and the Handicapped Sue Hoth and Alan Levitt 4 1973
Focus on the Handicapped R. Lynn Bondurant 3 1976
MER Members Discuss Programming for the Handicapped N.A. 1 1977
Discovering Rehabilitation in the Emerald City Joe Buckley 1 1978
Compel Them To Come In Alice Kenney 2 1981
A Question of Accessibility Janet Kamien 2 1981
Photography Aids Visually Impaired Museum Visitors George A. Covington 2 1981
About the Hearing-Impaired Audience H. Latham Breunig & Deborah M. Sonnenstrahl 2 1981
Private Museum Makes Accessibility Commitment Susan Page Tillett 3 1981
Docents Experience Museum Visit as Disabled Visitors Elizabeth Sharpe 3 1981
The Met and Mentally Retarded Museum-Goers Charles Steiner 3 1981
Sensory Changes in Older Adults: Implications for Museums Tamerra Moeller 4 1984
Why This Topic? Susan Nichols Lehman & Janice Majewski 2 1981

Research: Post ADA.

Article Author Issue Year
MER News Patricia Ann McDermott 18:1 1993
Museums and Aging: Reflections on the Aging Visitor, Volunteer, and Employee Nina M. Silverstein, Conrad Garcia & Abraham L. Landis 26:1 2001
Museum Visits Experiences of Special Education and Typically Developing Children Lorraine E. Maxwell & Jennifer Platten Killeen 27:1 2002
Walking with Janet Cardiff, Sitting with Massimo Guerrera, and Eating Apples with R. Murray Schafer Meaningful Museum Experiences with Participatory Art for Visitors with and without Visual Impairments Elizabeth Sweeney 34:3 2009
Access Is Not a Text Alternative Stephen Brown 34.3 2009
Who is Educating Whom? Two-way Learning in Museum/University Partnerships Fern Silverman & Bradford Bartley 38:2 2013
Museum Accessibility: Combining Audience Research and Staff Training Levent, Nina & Christine Reich N/A 2013
Accommodating Blind Learners Helps All Learners Wojton, Mary Ann, Joe Heimlich and Natalie Shaheen 41.1 2016
Art in the Moment: Evaluating a Therapeutic Wellness Program for People with Dementia and their Care Partners Livingston, Lucas, Gerri Fiterman Persin and Deborah Del Signore 41.2 2016
Engaging the d/Deaf Audience in Museums: A Case Study at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum Martins, Patricia Roque 41.3 2016
Engaging Children with Autism at Historic Sites: Developing an Audience-appropriate Curriculum Lurio, Ansel 41.3 2016
Well-Chosen Objects Support Well-Being for People with Dementia and Their Care Partners Carolyn Halpin-Healy 42.3 2017
Supporting Transitions: Cultural Connections for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders Aliza Greenberg & Sheri Levinsky-Raskin 42:4 2017
Can Sensory Gallery Guides for Children with Sensory Processing Challenges Improve Their Museum Experience? Tina S. Fletcher, Amanda B. Blake & Kathleen E. Shelffo 43:1 2018
Constructing Knowledge Together: Collaborating with and Understanding Young Adults with Autism Sam Theriault & Beth Redmond Jones 43.4 2018

Explore Museum Education Blog

Stay update with Museum Education blog posts that reflect and address issues faced in the field of museum work.
Read blog posts here

Taylor & Francis Accessibility Plan

Taylor & Francis Online has made accessibility a priority to ensure that its digital products can be easily used by all, regardless of ability or any assistive technology in use.
Discover accessibility developments here

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